Every week 40 women in Botswana are raped, but experts say that there could be many more.
According to official statistics from the Botswana Police every month approximately 173 people get raped across the country.
The Rape & Attempts statistics given to this publication by Botswana Police Assistant Public Relations Officer (PRO) Jayson Chabota indicate that in 2017 rape cases reached a disturbing 2,074 while the year 2016 recorded 2,052 rape cases.
An analysis of the data provided infers that last year an average of 40 people were being raped on a weekly basis, an increased figure from 2016 (2,052), 2015 (2,163), 2014 (2,034), 2011(1,800), 2010 (1,865) and 2009 (1,754) respectively. The statistics from the police show a steady increase in the crime.
While Chabota was not able to source the 2018 statistics due to aggregation, he said by mid-year June 2017, the police had already recorded a catastrophic 700 rape cases. Knoema, the online catalogue of economic, environmental and demographic data, information collected from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicates that the rape rate of Botswana stands at 91.6 cases per 100, 000 population. The Guardian media in the UK has ranked Knoema as a credible source of data and is a joint venture by Russian and Indian technology professionals.
Knoema comments that, “though Botswana rape fluctuated substantially in recent years, it tended to increase through 2009 – 2014.” These staggering rape statistics indicate a serious endemic in Botswana following the rape and murder of a 20 year old Sesung woman in Jwaneng during the annual 1000 km Desert Race event on June 23.
Shocked at the circulating images, many political parties and leaders issued statements condemning the incident. Police spokesperson Chabota told this publication in an interview that government is worried about the escalating rape crimes.
Human Rights lawyer Uyapo Ndadi said that the statistics, “were shocking and do reveal that we have a serious epidemic.”
He said that it is a fact that the majority of the culprits are men. “The laws are there to protect, but they mean nothing if we have weak mechanisms in place to ensure that the cases are prosecuted as speedily as possible so that rapists are sent to prison before they commit other rape offenses,” he added.
“My belief is that the reported cases do not give us the full picture. Some cases go unreported because of fear of stigma and backlash from the society particularly if the rape happens between lovers. Some fear the embarrassment and ridicule that the police subject them to. My call is that we all have a key role in trying to deal with this epidemic, ” he said.
Baleseng James, Head of Counselling and support at Woman Against Rape organisation said that they have observed an increase in rape cases amongst the youth as well and the existing fear to report incidents well in time by victims due to stigma and trauma. “Rape is a complex thing caused by many things; physical, psychological and even alcohol. Rapists often prey on their victims at entertainment spots and there is a correlation between the two,” James explained.
Ndadi had also stated that women should try by all means to avoid putting themselves in positions where they will be vulnerable and compromised, eg, traveling alone at night. “We all have a responsibility to militate against crime. We all have human rights but when one is in a place of danger the human rights will not protect them,” he advised.
On 3rd July, 2018 four suspects, Boemo Baitsi (24) , Tshepho Molwalefi (29) from Kanye, Thuto Sungwasungwane (24) and Pako Segogwane (30), both from Lotlhakane East appeared before Jwaneng Magistrate Court charged with a single count of murder in connection with the death of 20 year old Mathoko Tsheko at this year’s Desert Race. The police reported that they are likely to consider additional charges during the course of investigations.
Speaking to this publication this week, the Chief Executive Officer of Kagisano Society for Women’s Shelter Lerato Sakufiwa said that the nation needs to conduct an extensive benchmarking expedition to determine, “Why men in this country are full of rage and violating women. What are men so angry about? We need to answer that question.”
She said that from a psychological perspective rape is not about sex rather a crime of revenge and rage. She further posited that the family setup also needs to be reviewed extensively to determine whether the boy child is being raised in an environment with support structures effective enough for them to find role models.
“ Do we have good role models in older men to teach the young men how to handle disappointment and conflict? Are men holding each other accountable for their behaviour or do they encourage each other even if it is wrong? For example we have cases of rape by high profile people who can afford to offer money to their victims in order to escape the law and this is a violation of the victim’s rights. We are teaching our young men with no money to pick up a bad habit that one can rape and get away with it. Law enforcers need to make sure that people get punished for their acts and not get emotional as well,” she said.
The four murder suspects have been remanded into custody and will appear again on the 18 July 2018 at the Jwaneng Magistrate Court. Allegations are that they are also suspected to have raped the 20 year old young woman before she died.